Super Atomic Scrotal Wedgie GO!

I haven’t picked on Rob Liefeld in a long time, but I must dive back into the pit one more time to discuss how even the simplest super hero costumes can quickly and hideously go wrong:

I don’t know who this guy is, but he’s apparently a commander in some sort of S.H.I.E.L.D. like paramilitary super group, and that’s his costume. That’s what he wakes up each morning and puts on, then leaves the house wearing. On purpose.

In his defense, maybe he’s under orders and has to wear it. For instance, maybe he accidentally killed some puppies and rather than throw him in jail (wasting his super abilities) they said “Bob, you’re going to have to wear this costume every day until your sentence is up.” And then Bob cried, because sometimes getting a Super Atomic Scrotal Wedgie is worse than all the time in jail you can imagine.

I’ve said it before, but combining red and green presents a challenge for the fashion designer. Juxtaposing color opposites creates a bit of visual tension and you have to be careful to balance them out with other design elements. For instance, the Martian Manhunter pulls it off nicely:

Here the red directly against his green skin creates an intense focal point and adds a lot of drama to the figure. But it works because the high-contrast red/green area is surrounded by blue, softening the impact. In the Liefeld design, no such boundary exists, and as a result you’re left with nothing but clash.

I mentioned the Super Atomic Scrotal Wedgie both figures are sporting here, but I wanted to add that baggy pants with very tight metal kneepads are also a no-no. Combined with the incredibly high-waisted belt and ubiquitous thigh pouches and you’ve got a bona fide pants disaster here.

The boots trouble me as well. They appear to have laces cross-tied like you’d find on combat boots, but no tongue or tie to keep them all together. I realize, of course, that’s actually lazy drafting rather than lazy design, but it’s still irritating.

I don’t get the collar device either. Is he about to take a long flight and that’s his inflatable sleep pillow? Possibly, but that doesn’t explain why his right pectoral is festooned with Bic pens, nor why he’s got a Dustbuster on his left shoulder, nor why he’s wearing his thermos on his back. Maybe the forty seven pouches adorning his festive red and green ensemble are full of crack for his pipe? Because that’s the only way I see this guy living with the shame of having to wade into combat dressed that way.

(Images and characters © Marvel Comics.)

42 Responses to Super Atomic Scrotal Wedgie GO!

  1. For those too sane to seek such knowledge from the Tainted Tree of Liefeld, the unfortunate gentleman is George Washington Bridge.
    Yes, really.
    And he is an agent of SHIELD, so that makes that particularly heinous outfit even worse, because he chose it deliberately over the usual uniform.

  2. With all those deliberately, pain-stakingly drawn lines on their crotches, there isn’t really any mistaking that Liefeld really does want to portray these guys having their pants sucked into their crotches like mini black holes. You have to wonder what this guy is thinking when he designs these ridiculous costumes…

  3. Something else that annoys me is that other guy’s outfit, though it’s more to do with poor art than actual costume design.

    Is that supposed to be arctic camouflage or did he skin an albino giraffe? I mean, what is with those strange blotches all over his costume?

  4. I love Liefield bashing. Oh so much. Here’s a link to his 40 worst drawings:
    http://progressiveboink.com/archive/robliefeld.html

    The pic above is classic Liefeld. Nothing makes sense. Crosshatching everywhere. A belt up to his chest. Random neck brace. Renaissance fair boots. More pockets and pouches than anyone can count.

    Random phallus shaped gadgets on his chest. Etc. Etc. A mess – a mess that caught on in the 90’s and got Liefeld in a Gap Jeans ad and on 60 minutes.

    It’s like when I was a kid and I would draw a guy with all kinds of gear on him because it felt ‘bad ass’. And you know why it has that feel? Because that is a kid drawing it. Rob broke in as a kid and never grew as an artist. He still has a kid mentality and he makes more money than any of us ever will be selling IDEAS for movie scripts to studios for millions. Yes, I said IDEAS – not actual scripts.

    He needs a good internet beating from time to time.

  5. Has anyone else noticed the red and green together kinda makes him look like an over-sized gay elf with a cape/leather fetish?

  6. What the hell is it with Liefeld and his fascination with the male crotch? Well, I guess his fascination with crotch in general, when it comes down to it. I mean, if it’s not the scrotal wedgie, it’s the over-sized package bulge that some of his males feature.
    There’s a reason I stopped collecting comics in the 90s. It’s possible that since I started college, I felt my spare cash was better spent on pizza, beer and the (very) occasional date, rather than comics, but I’d still like to think it was because of the prevalence of Liefeld’s (and those that copied him)aesthetically unappealing art.

  7. To paraphrase Beavis and Butthead: Them are some “snug” nads.

    :)

  8. @B. Clouser & Jeff: Thanks for the laughs.

  9. I don’t get the green, in fact I think that comic creators are getting to friendly with Green, I frankly hat the color on super hero’s or vilians. The only one that it has ever really worked for me was the incredible hulk, after that, I think it has been overused, and frankly I don’t like it.

    I know Green Face is something that is in, but I think we need just a little more selective color choice. And I too have never heard of this guy until today. Interesting costume or “Outfit” that he wears, maybe a little overboard…

  10. Clouser, that was an awesome link to much sukkage. That’s suck-ah-gay, so much suckage it blasts you in the face like, well, you know. Anyone can feel free to steal that.

    But back to Clouser- awesome link to bad art… a new accomplishment in my book.

  11. Hey Jeff, an offshoot from the topic, where did you study all your anatomy to draw? Since Liefeld sucks so much and yours is generally great, it just sparked my interest.

  12. Brad, my anatomy is actually pretty weak. Really good artists literally study it like from “Gray’s Anatomy”, learning the Latin names of all the muscle groups and memorizing how they work, where they attach, etc. I’m pretty much a hack, although I took Life Drawing a lot in college, along with all the other classes for my Art degree.

    Basically for me it’s visual memory from having drawn the human figure over and over and over and over for years and years.

  13. hehe, I guess you could say calling it “generally great” was in comparison to my own. But you can, at least, set up proper muscle groups and bone structure. For goodness sake’s, how did he keep getting work?

  14. Ha. I got nostalgic when it comes to my Liefeld bashing and found an article about him – not outright bashing him as those are pasted all over the net (see above), but delving into why was popular in the past and still gets jobs to this very day. It’s interesting, hilarious, and a little horrific once you think of the devil’s luck Liefeld seems to have.

    http://www.i-mockery.com/comics/dork4/default.php

    I also found an article of Liefeld bashing Alan Moore and it made my blood curdle reading it. Not even a little cool.

  15. watson bradshaw

    Looks like he is in charge of s.h.i.e.l.d Office supplies with all those bic pens. Fury goes thigh a lot of staples and binders in the espionage game!

  16. i always hated 1990’s comic art it made me have a headache too much emphasis of intense emotion and i could never understand why everything was so damn shiny.

  17. one plus to 90’s comic art alex ross and the artists of kingdom come

  18. Jeff, I always enjoy your talks in regard to color. That’s something that I sometimes struggle with. I’d love to read a post that dealt with nothing but the effect of different colors on a composition.

  19. Wow, SHIELD has cool little shoulder devices that talk for you! In regards to the other dude, note how smoke is coming from his mouth, yet I detect no cigarette. Is Rob too stupid to realize that A) Camouflage is supposed to be two colors, and B) White is a very bad camo color anywhere outside the Arctic?

  20. remy (18): I’m not sure if you didn’t catch it, or if you’re being particularly ascerbic of Liefeld’s “artistic style.” It does appear that the two men are in a cold-weather environment. On the other hand, you are right, unless they are in whiteout, snow-glare arctic conditions, a pure white camo doesn’t work. Neither of which explains why G.W.B. is standing around like a stupid green-and-red blotch on the landscape. Also I’m guessing that isn’t cigarette smoke, but condensed water vapor from their breath, but again, Rob Liefeld has probably never seen this phenomenon, otherwise he would know that it appears as short puffs of vapor that nearly immediately disapate, so what he’s drawn indeed looks like cigarette smoke.
    Anyway, see why I’m having problems with your comment? I can’t tell if you’re ignorant of what’s going on (not entirely your fault; Liefeld doesn’t draw coherent backgrounds), or you’re being witty, and I’m the idiot for not picking it up. If I was you, i’d just say it was the latter one.

  21. Looking back at the picture, you’re right. I only glanced at it and assumed that those figures in the background were standing around a fire, and since that one dude’s arms are pointing to it, I thought it was a trash can fire so often seen in urban environments.

  22. Jake (18): Interesting idea … I’ll have to think about that. I’m not sure if I’m super qualified on that, since most of what I do is black and white, but it’s definitely something to consider.

  23. I couldn’t tell if comment #9 was spam or not … I decided to err on the side of kindness but I still am not sure that’s a real person.

  24. Ah, yes, it’s an Arctic type of scene, I get it now. Thanks Myro!

    However, I think this is the key component of why I hate Liefeld’s art. At its core, comics are about sequential storytelling. If you can’t tell what the hell is going on in a particular panel (and from there, the page), then you’ve failed at the central mission of the entire endeavor. If your visual storytelling is so poor that the viewer can’t even understand what is supposed to be going on, who is supposed to be where in relation to everyone else, what it is they’re doing or wearing, and where they’re supposed to be, you’ve failed.

    Some great draftsmen make terrible storytellers, and some mediocre draftsmen are great at it. Liefeld is neither a good draftsman nor a good storyteller, and that’s what drives me so nuts. That whole style of art has sacrificed what comics does best — tell stories — for the sake of only the barest elements of storytelling.

  25. Is it just me, or do those massive slabs of man-muscle have absurdly dainty hands and feet?

  26. Kate (25): No, that’s not you. That’s classic Rob Liefeld. Talentless ass-hat can’t draw hands or feet to scale. B. Clouser’s link in comment #4 has at least half a dozen examples of this.
    Jeff (24): As I was saying, Liefeld doesn’t draw a coherent background. I mean, it’s not remy’s (or anyone else besides Liefeld’s) fault that it’s not clear those half-assed squiggles at the bottom of the picture are supposed to be snow (although remy, I did give you an out, you just chose not to take it). I just can’t believe that comic book publishers paid this guy to draw when he spends so much time drawing lines instead of, you know, actual detail.

  27. I think I get what’s going on now, despite Liefield’s best efforts to obscure it.
    Clearly, Commander Bridge spearheaded a SHIELD attack on a North Pole based compound. Analysis of satellites photos of the base determined the evident presence of WMD emplacements and manufacturing facilities. No explanation was found for those eight reindeer; possibly a food source. Intel revealed that a red and green ensemble would lull the local base personnel–all, except for their leader, apparently of remarkably small stature–into a false sense of security. Targeted personnel put up meagre resistance and were terminated with extreme prejudice, except for their bearded leader in a red uniform, who escaped into the Arctic night laughing. Sources indicate he may be in a cave in Afghanistan. For the most part, however, Mission Accomplished!
    In this “artist’s conception” of the aftermath, the commander has found some undestroyed toys lying about and strapped a few around his shoulders, neck and head. Those guys in the background are stoking the elf-pyre.

  28. I don’t understand why the shadowing on his green pants is brown.

  29. The flunky looks awfully feminine if you ask me. (It is a man right? you never know with Liefeld)

  30. I read “inflatable sheep pillow” and laughed.

  31. Okay Jeff, I think I get the picture on how ROB LIEFELD SUCKS, but let’s go the opposite route and can you comment on which comic book artist makes you go WOW! Can be anyone from any era or genre.

  32. @Blue Blazer: Because darker green is too much of a stretch for the “amazing” Mr. Liefeld.

  33. ams, I’m a sucker for the classic greats — John Buscema, Gil Kane, and Jack Kirby, particularly Gil Kane. He wasn’t as inspired a creative force as Kirby, whose panels and constructions were just insane, but I love the style of line he used and the spare grace he brought to his characters. Strangely, I think what I love the most about him is his boots. That dude could draw some footwear.

    I love Mark Schultz and his “Xenozoic Tales”; the guy is a brilliant inker. I could stare at his panels for hours. Just amazingly gifted. The same is true (in a much simpler style) for Jeff Smith and the “Bone” series. David Mazzuchelli, both in “Batman Year One” and the Daredevil Redemption series was inspiring. I love the elegant moodiness he invests his comics with.

    Nowadays I love Bill Willingham and his Fables work, Ryan Ottley’s “Invincible” stuff, and Gene Ha. Brian Hitch’s work in “The Ultimates” is a clinic in clean, crisp, engaging storytelling.

    Lots more too, but I’ve never been very good at remembering names. I tend to forget the creator when I fall in love with the creation. Wow, that’s a lot more profound than I expected …

  34. Great choices1 I”ve always been a George Perez fan. The detail he could put into one panel showed the passion he had for his craft. and his story telling was always bang on. You go through any of his completed issues, take out all the word ballons and still know what each character has said. Today I get a huge rush seeing anything Ivan Reis does. He is like a combination of Perez and Jim Lee rolled into one. Frank Cho is another whose anatomy dipictions are something to study and learn from. Bryan Hitch, Alex Ross, Salvador Larroca, Carlos Pacheco are also artists that I look for when buying comics.

    If anyone didn’t know of this site, http://comicartcommunity.com/gallery/, it’s great to take a look at to get ideas for pics.

  35. Did Liefeld write or color this issue? If not, then the terrible coloring may not be his fault? Although that doesn’t make up for the terrible art, but still.

  36. Liefeld would not have colored his own issues, no. However, he designed the costumes, so the color there is definitely his choice — the colorist isn’t going to suddenly decide Iron Man has blue and purple armor. The backgrounds and stuff like that, though, is generally not something the penciller or inker would say anything about, that’s up to the colorist.

  37. Aw, blue and purple Iron Man would be so pretty!

  38. Question just occurred to me. I’m not sure if anyone would know it, but I’m going to toss this out to the forum at large.

    Do artists regularly work with the same inkers and/or colorists?

    I mean, it would kind of make sense in the fact that if you were a pencil artist and managed to put together some good work and had a connection with an inker or colorist, then you’d probably want to work with them again. I’m just not sure if editors would encourage these kind of arrangements or not. But I really don’t want to go digging through my comics to see if I can find a case where the artist jumped over to a different title with the same publisher, just to see if the inker or colorist did as well.

  39. I dunno about any other artists, but Alan Davis for sure has a favorite inker he works with a lot, no matter what book he’s on or what company it’s for; Mark Farmer inks even have their own section in the gallery on Davis’s website (http://www.alandavis-comicart.com/). But I look forward to someone with more comprehensive knowledge than mine chiming in to say whether that’s normal or not.

  40. Like X-stacy, I am no expert, but my impression has always been that at the big publishing houses, the assignment of art teams is almost entirely in the hands of the editors. They have a bullpen of colorists, pencillers, inkers, and letterers, and the teams are assembled by editorial based on who’s available, who has the time to do it, how complementary the styles are, and that sort of thing. Obviously since Image and Dark Horse started the creator-centered revolution a few decades back, the popular creators have more control and input than they used to, moving from a more top-down editorial control to an artist-controlled process.

    From reading commentary at other places, my understanding is that even at the big houses you can request certain teams to work together, but it’s ultimately not up to you as the artist in most cases.

    Having said that, if Frank Miller wants a certain person inking or coloring his stuff, by God he’s going to get it.

  41. I like Eric Powell and Tim Sale. Great artists who keep it simple and yet the detail created by their ink wash work makes their comics stand out from the rest without relying on flashy photoshop work.

    Their work has influenced me a lot with my work on my graphic novel. But then again, so have manga artists like Hiroaki Samura, and even the character design simplicity of Masashi Kishimoto.

  42. I am the Atomic Punk, and I do not approve of this wedgie.